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BMG Royalty Payments

Thu May 22, 2003 7:58 am

Anyone know what type of payment EPE receives for each cd or album sold world wide?

Thu May 22, 2003 10:36 am

For years the estate received nothing on any music recorded before 1973. This is partly why Elvis has worked has received so little promotion over the years since the estate owns Elvis' image while RCA owns the masters. On the recent set E1 BMG and the estate came to some sort of an agreement. I don't know what it is. In 1981 a judge ruled that Col. Parker and RCA had not acted in Elvis' best interests threatening RCA's domination of royalties. I'm not sure how that was settled but Sean Neal's book "Elvis Inc." indicated that RCA hung on to the royalty rights Elvis signed away in 1973. Though I have also read that the 1990 collection Great Performances also generated royalties for the estate. Of course that contained some post '73 recordings along with earlier hits.

Thu May 22, 2003 10:42 am

I believe with any new compilation EPE are entitled to royalties. It is only the old catalogue pre 1973 that they are not, and i think they are entitled to the publishing royalties on all that was his. :D


Thu May 22, 2003 10:49 am

This is from EPE....

RCA Records owns his recordings. The RCA Records Label was bought by BMG in the 1980s. The various composers/publishers own the songs themselves. People get confused about the ownership of the recordings with that of the songs. Also, they get confused about a deal Elvis and his manager made with RCA in 1973. Here is our attempt to sort it all out for you:


Elvis began his recording career with Sun Records in Memphis in the summer of 1954. Sun Records owner/producer Sam Phillips sold Elvis' recording contract and the catalog of Elvis' Sun recordings to RCA in the fall of 1955. Elvis began recording for RCA in January 1956 and continued under contract with RCA for the rest of his life. Elvis never had ownership in his Sun or RCA recordings. Elvis received an artist's royalty on record sales, per the terms of his contracts with the record company. That's typically how it's done.


In March 1973, Elvis and and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, went to the record company proposing that Elvis to get a large lump sum payment in lieu of all his future artist's royalties for ongoing sales of anything he had recorded up to that time. The deal was made. RCA paid $5.4 million, which Elvis and the Colonel split 50-50. That meant Elvis no longer got (EPE today does not get) his artist's royalties for the ongoing sales of any recordings created before the March 1973 deal. However, Elvis did continue (EPE today continues) to get his artist's royalties on sales of recordings created after the March 1973 deal. Some people misunderstand and think that Elvis had a share in the ownership of his recordings and that this is what he sold to RCA. He did not. He couldn't because he never had ownership.


Totally separate from the ownership of Elvis's recordings is the ownership of the songs themselves. Elvis recorded over 700 songs. Elvis, through his own publishing companies (Elvis Presley Music, Gladys Music, Whitehaven Music, Elvis Music, Inc.) was part owner (typically half or third) of a great many of the songs he recorded and even some songs he did not record. Hill & Range Music, owned by brothers Julian and Jean Aberbach, was his publishing partner for the most part. Typically, in the deals made with the publishing companies, the composers retain a share. The publishing companies manage the material.

Elvis did not sell his publishing interests. EPE still holds those interests and they are one of our major assets. Thus, the 1973 deal regarding Elvis' artist's royalties had no effect on his publisher's royalties. Elvis continued to get (EPE still gets) his publisher's royalties on sales of recordings of songs he had publishing interest in, no matter what date they were recorded. Elvis also recorded many songs that he did not have publishing interest in. Once in a while, per the contracts signed in Elvis' lifetime, his publishing interests expire on some songs.

Thu May 22, 2003 1:44 pm

I have always understood (perhaps incorrectly) that it was the rights to the MASTERS that Elvis sold. This has made me wonder about royalties on all the out-takes released sice he died, regardless of recording date-does anyone have anymore info?

Thu May 22, 2003 3:06 pm

Sam -

Thanks for that.

They don't mention what difference the later court case against Parker made to the royalty position.

Perhaps nothing.

Andy C -

It is clear from the EPE statement that the arrangement affects all recordings made before 1973.

This is irrespective of master take or outtake.

Colin B

Thu May 22, 2003 3:17 pm

Hence the "Legendary Performer" series. RCA issued alternates etc without the need to pay Elvis royalties. Elvis and the Col. must have been gutted, as it was his most successful album in years, and Joan Deary seserves credit for bringing this material to the marketplace in the first place.

Thu May 22, 2003 3:41 pm

That's strange that "Legendary Performer" series was a good seller and they haven't released them on CD?
I think it could make a great package on CD. In a nice cardboard box with the centre circle cut out like the original covers.


Thu May 22, 2003 4:38 pm

Man, it's so hard to read that Elvis have agreed in such unbelievably STUPID deals! Of course he couldn't have known what he would sell after 1973, but still...... selling all your royalties for only 2.7 million.... It's obvious he needed the cash (again!).

But then again, he only had 4 years left to "enjoy" the money. But it's so sad that no-one really managed Elvis REAL interests....

Thu May 22, 2003 4:41 pm

sam wrote:That's strange that "Legendary Performer" series was a good seller and they haven't released them on CD?
I think it could make a great package on CD. In a nice cardboard box with the centre circle cut out like the original covers.

Whilst the “Legendary Performer” series was popular at the time, I think the reason RCA/BMG has not given them a CD release, (if we discount the incomplete Canadian CD versions of volumes one and two) is because most of the material that was considered rare at the time has since been re-issued on other projects. As they are trying to trim the catalogue the FTD releases of the soundtrack CD’s make sense, because they are made up almost completely of deleted masters. If they re-issued the “Legendary Performer” albums this would result in further track duplication issues, and over the entire four volumes we would only end up with a handful of tracks/mixes that haven’t appeared on an official CD release so far.

Thu May 22, 2003 4:50 pm

I see where you're coming from with that info. But I'd sure love to get an official release of it especially if they packaged it correctly with original booklets etc. (Maybe one day when they rotate there releases a bit).


Thu May 22, 2003 7:57 pm

What About The people Worked With Elvis How Much There
Getting Payed For There Royalties, On Playing In These Session
like The Good Old Sun Day's. Scotty More Got Payed $40.00
For The Sunrse Cd And He's Not To Happy With It, And I Think
He Sued BMG For That, And What About The Member's Of The
Band In The 70's how much there Getting On there Music Session
And Live Concert's.

Curtis simpkins
Last edited by Guest on Thu May 22, 2003 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thu May 22, 2003 8:05 pm



Thu May 22, 2003 8:07 pm

Yeah Yeah I'm All Shook Up


Curtis Simpkins

Thu May 22, 2003 9:52 pm

God I hate the Colonel.

Thu May 22, 2003 11:10 pm

To help further clarify this issue there are two types of royalties that generates income for a recording artist: 1.) Mechanical royalties. This is a royalty paid on the number of records/units sold. This is paid to the artist by the record company. 2.) Performance royalties. This involves the music publisher and songwriter(s). Basically, each time a song is played on the radio and jukebox, performed live, used in a film or T.V. show, and sold as sheet music the publisher & songwriters are entitled to payment. They also get paid mechanical royalties for record sales. These monies are collected by a performance rights organization (BMI; ASCAP: SESAC) and paid directly (and separately) to the publisher and the songwriter. This prevents the songwriter from getting ripped-off by the publisher (no such 3rd party payment system exists for mechancial royalties. This explains how many record companies are able to rip-off their artists!). This explains why non-writing singers such as Elvis often tried to get a piece of the publishing pie by the illegitimate means of a phony writers credit, or by the more acceptable route of having the writers publish their songs through an artists own publishing company (by the way, this still takes place in the country music industry).
In the case of the 73 deal Elvis would no longer receive mechanical royalties for everything from Aloha back, but would receive performance royalties for everything published through one of his companies or for which he had a phony writers credit. He would receive mechanical royalties for all the post Aloha studio and live albums. He would not receive mechanical royalties for the Legendary Performer sets, the Sun Sessions, and the T.V. advertised Greatest Hits double album. This basically means that the only post Aloha album that Elvis derived any significant mechanical royalty income from was the Live/Memphis lp. This also goes a long way towards explaining why Elvis (Fool); Raised On Rock; Good Times; Promised Land; Today; From EP Boulevard and Moody Blue received nothing in the way of promotion by the record company. These were really Elvis/Col. Parker albums, and as such, RCA had little to gain by promoting them, while they stood to make a healthy profit by promoting the albums which contained the music they themselves owned.
Last edited by Pete Dube on Fri May 23, 2003 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thu May 22, 2003 11:43 pm

Pete -

Thanks for that !

Made me think about the 'ALLC' royalties.

It was on the single in three versions.

1] The writers would get their royalty [whatever that was] multiplied by three for every sale of the single world-wide.

2] Plus a royalty for every "Elv1s" album sold.

3] Plus a royalty for every "Ocean's 11" album sold.

4] Plus a royalty for every hits compilation album sold [I know of three that it is on].

5] Then there are the broadcasting royalties.

All in all a nice little earner for the two composers, for a long-forgotten song written 34 years earlier !

Colin B

Fri May 23, 2003 8:45 am

This gives me a chance to hop on one of my favorite hobby horses. Like most artists in the industry Elvis did not own the rights to his recordings though he was given royalties. As with almost every other artist in the industry, this is a grave outrage.

RCA owned these recordings (arguably the most commercially successful recordings in the history of the world) yet Elvis not only created them but paid for them as well. Artists do not make a dime off their recordings until the recording costs and a large percentage of the promotion costs are paid for out of their royalties. So we have a case where a person creates a product and pays for it, yet still doesn't own it. Many times with funny record company bookkeeping, artists never see any royalties even from million sellers. All the record company does is front the artists money and promotes the record. If a record is successful they get that money back.

This of course is not a Col. Parker issue but an industry issue. That a company could benefit so much from the work of a single artist and deliver so little in return is a crime.

Fri May 23, 2003 5:33 pm

Likethebike -
I've read that Elvis did pay for his recording sessions (some of them at any rate) but this is not the norm in the industry. Usually, the record company fronts the artist the money to cut a record against the potential future royalties. In other words if the record sells well the company recoups their investment out of the artist's royalties. If the record doesn't do too well, the company could still recoup their investment from royalties on future records. If the record is an out and out flop, and the record company decides to drop the artist from the label, then the company would be out their initial investment. It used to be that a new artist had 3 albums to "make it." If the first album sold around 200,000 copies the artist would be kept on the label. But the second album was expected to move about twice as many units, and the third album had to at the very least sell over 500,000 copies. Nowadays, in this multi, mega platinum age we're living in, if an artist doesn't sell at least a million copies of a debut album there's a good chance they'll be dropped!
Colin - yet another royalty payment to Mac Davis & Billy Strange for ALLC is it's recent use in Everybody Loves Raymond!
And 3 Bang records era Neil Diamond tunes have put some additional dough in 'ol Neils pockets years after Neil recorded 'em due to successful cover versions: Red, Red Wine by UB 40 (a #1 international hit); Urge Overkill's Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon (featured in the hit film Pulp Fiction); and Smash Mouth's version of I'm A Believer (as well as Eddie Murphy's) from the hit film Shreck. Songwriting is the way to go!

Sat May 24, 2003 10:14 am

That's what I mean, the front money from the record company is nothing but a glorified loan. An artist does not get one cent in royalties until that advance is paid back.

Sat May 24, 2003 10:18 am

"A record company is there to market records not dictate terms"

Johnny Rotten

Sat May 24, 2003 11:37 pm

Agreed. Don't blame the Colonel for it.